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May 04

Review: Hopetoun Wives by Fran Cusworth

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Hopetoun Wives by Fran CusworthHopetoun Wives by Fran Cusworth
Published by Michael Joseph on 2009
Genres: contemporary, fiction, romance & chicklit
Pages: 336
Source: ARC received from publisher
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At the giddy height of resources boom, a mine opens in tiny outback Hopetoun, Western Australia. This remote and beautiful place will change forever, uniting three very different women with its promise of new beginnings.City slicker Jasmine has moved west reluctantly, to save her marriage. Miranda, the mine-manager's wife, is fighting to be her own woman - ever if it means adopting a course that could ruin the mine. And Brigid is struggling to keep her family together despite her husband's crippling debts.In a town full of strangers, the three women join forces to open the Boomtown Café, sharing tears and laughter, frustrations and dreams. Amid the chaos and greed of a modern-day gold rush, they discover that true friendship may be the only thing that lasts . . .PRAISE FOR FRAN CUSWORTH'S THE LOVE CHILD'Assured, wise and witty'THE AGE'A warm and entertaining page-turner'SUNDAY HERALD SUN

Hopetoun Wives is set in the isolated nickel-mining town of Hopetoun in Western Australia. The three central characters, Miranda, Jasmine and Brigid are each looking for answers to personal dilemmas as they move to Hopetoun with their family.

Expecting a reasonably standard women-finding-each-other-and-finding-themselves sort of scenario, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the three central characters came across as very authentic women with a believable mixture of strengths and flaws struggling with issues that were very easy to relate to as a wife and mother.

The friendship between these women grows in the hothouse environment of Hopetoun as they each try to fit in and find their feet in a town that is struggling to redefine itself from quiet country town to thriving boomtown. Their friendship, their relationships with their partners and children, and their own personal development are both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Anyone familiar with small town living will relate to Miranda and Jasmine’s struggles to adjust from city life to the isolation and lack of privacy they experience in Hopetoun. I particularly enjoyed the humour of the dinner scene where Jasmine arrives and discovers that there is no graceful escape from committing the social faux pas of overdressing for a community gathering.

Given her own experience living in Hopetoun for some time with her husband and two boys, it is not surprising that Fran Cusworth manages to paint a very genuine and compelling picture of the conflicts and difficulties faced by a town experiencing the incredible input of money and people brought about by the crest of the resources boom wave.

I enjoyed the complexity of this novel – that it explores both the struggles and triumphs of individuals and the struggle of the community of Hopetoun to hold on to its identity as a country town as well as embrace the changes brought by the mine. There are moments of humour as well as more emotional scenes and the descriptions of the West Australian coast reflect Cusworth’s obvious affection for the town and area.

Hopetoun Wives would be an ideal selection for a book club or book discussion group.

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